The soft, starchy endosperm of the maize (Zea mays L.) floury 2 mutant is associated with a reduction in zein mRNA and protein synthesis, unique protein body morphology, and enhanced levels of a 70 kDa protein, that has been shown to be the maize homolog of a chaperonin found in the endoplasmic reticulum. We found an unusual alpha-zein protein of 24 kDa to be consistently associated with the zein fraction from floury 2 mutants. Three additional alpha-zein proteins with molecular weights ranging from ca. 25 to 27 kDa are detected in the storage protein fraction of a high percentage of floury 2 kernels and a low percentage of normal kernels in a genetically segregating population. The four proteins in a genetically segregating population. The four proteins can be distinguished from one another by immunostaining on Western blots. Synthesis of the 24 kDa protein is regulated by Opaque2, since the 24 kDa protein is lacking in the storage protein fraction of opaque2/floury2 double mutants. The synthesis of an abnormal alpha-zein protein in floury2 could explain many features of the mutant, such as the abnormal protein body morphology, induction of the 70 kDa chaperonin, and hypostasis to opaque2 (o2). Although we cannot prove that the accumulation of this protein is responsible for the floury2 phenotype, we were able to detect a restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) linked to the floury2 locus with a 22 kDa alpha-zein probe. We hypothesize that the unique characteristics of the floury2 mutant could be a response to the accumulation of a defective alpha-zein protein which impairs secretory protein synthesis.